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Food and Beverage

T.G.I. Fridays Pushes the Boundaries of Reality with ‘Endless Appetizers’

TGI F

These aren’t “endless” unless you’re discussing their shelf life.

The greatest sociological experiment of our time has begun–and it involves lots of appetizers.

One could discuss the marketing/brand identification strategy behind T.G.I. Fridays‘ decision to give all comers as many appetizers as they can stuff into their mouths this summer for the low price of $10. One could ask whether this attempt to woo cheap eaters is really all about the drinks they’ll justify with that two-digit total. One might even ask why Guy Fieri was not somehow involved.

But we just finished a super-long weekend, so this morning we’ll let USA Today (nice placement!) do the analysis for us…

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Dining Goes Digital With a Mash-Up of IBM’s Watson and Bon Appetit

watson bon appetitIBM‘s Watson supercomputer and food magazine Bon Appetit have joined forces to create an app — “Chef Watson with Bon Appetit,” currently in beta — that finds new ways to mix and match foods based on 9,000 Bon Appetit recipes. Essentially, Watson consumed the recipe data and can now manipulate it into new flavors and concoctions.

“To come up with these creatively crafted cuisines, Watson uses Bon Appetit’s insights about ingredient pairings, cooking styles, and dishes and then mixes that with food chemistry, the psychology of people’s likes and dislikes, and regional and ethnic tastes,” reports CNET. “The idea is to help people discover new and flavorful recipes that are fine-tuned to make taste buds happy.”

Something like fennel-spiced baby back pork with a tangy apple-mustard sauce. Good grief. Sounds delish.

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Burger King Has a Gay Pride Whopper and It’s Just Like a Regular Whopper

Burger King, like the rest of us, is celebrating LGBT Pride Week. For this special occasion, one San Francisco BK restaurant has introduced a special Proud Whopper, a sandwich wrapped in a rainbow of bright colors. But when you unwrap it, inside, all you’ll find is a regular old Whopper.

What gives?

Well, the company says that’s kind of the point.

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U.S. Veteran Claims Cracker Barrel Fired Him for Giving Needy Man a Corn Muffin

cracker barrel pic stitch

Meet Joseph Koblenzer.

He is a 73-year-old man, former war veteran, and now standing in the unemployment due to the actions of Cracker Barrel. What actions? According to CBS Tampa Bay, Koblenzer was a man with a heart for the needy.

In fact, it was the appearance of a needy man and woman (on separate occasions) who cost him a nice job as a three-year greeter of said folksy eatery. His deviant act of thievery? A corn muffin, packets of mayonnaise and tartar sauce, coffee, and a coke and a smile.

Yeah, we hate him too.

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‘Kitchen Nightmares’ Was Only a Dream Come True 40% of the Time

gordon ramsay

Chef Gordon Ramsay has approximately 1,649 shows on TV. Okay, perhaps that is an overstatement, but it’s close. Between his monopolizing BBC America and FOX with original and remake programming, you would think this chef can do no wrong.

As a foodie, I know anyone who wasn’t a cafeteria lady or a hospital cook on a reality show looking for those precious 15 minutes of fame will act like Chef Ramsay is “just a dude.” However, someone who really loved cooking food would salivate at the man’s footsteps. He really is that much of a stud in a kitchen, so you expect he has the Midas touch … and then someone did some digging around the success rate of his show ‘Kitchen Nightmares.’

And that’s when Gordon Ramsay quit. Really.

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Iceland Looks to Take Down Greece in Yogurt Culture Wars

yogurtThe Vikings are ready to rumble with the the Greeks. The battleground: the dairy aisle.

Yogurt is a big business these days and Greek yogurt has got the market cornered. In particular, Chobani is selling like hot cakes. But Iceland has its own yogurt to sell. Skyr is very much like Greek yogurt, but thicker with a more “yogurt-y” taste. (Clearly, I’m not a food writer.) Both are delicious. But Siggi’s, a popular brand of skyr (maybe the popular brand of skyr), maintains that the competition is packed with sugar.

This is the big selling point and primary message for Siggi’s: Skyr has “natural ingredients and less sugar.” Since most people are eating yogurt to be healthy, Siggi’s thinks the choice is obvious.

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McDonald’s Pranks Aspiring Vegas Performers for Promo Stunt

The concept of a zombie-themed musical extravaganza in Vegas is apparently believable enough to fool a group of theater devotees who happened to be gathering in the general area for an “art walk event”. McDonald’s, Dr. Pepper and Vegas theater The Arts Factory (which has LOTS of vintage bike nights) collaborated on this stunt with, we presume, an agency that will choose to remain nameless.

The purpose of this surprisingly high-budget event was to promote the chain’s new “After Midnight” menu, and the resulting video resembles a collection of clips from “American Idol” rejects.

You’ll have to pardon us for being a bit skeptical…and a little sad for the “crowdsourced” passersby who didn’t seem to realize that it was a joke. Steve Hall of MarketingLand writes:

“To promote ‘Hunger in the Night,’ McDonald’s outreach efforts incorporated advertisements, media support and branded promotional materials, including a wrapped tour bus to attract participants to the open casting.”

That’s quite an effort. We’re not even sure these would-be stars of stage and screen are representative of the target audience for AM munchies. But if the brand needs a PR who can speak to that particular demo, we do have someone in mind…

McDonald’s Voted America’s Least Favorite Fast-Food Chain

mcd's drive throughThe most recent study from the American Customer Service Index shows that McDonald’s is America’s least favorite fast-food chain. For the report, the organization, which measures customer satisfaction in a number of industries, finds that the average customer satisfaction rating is 80 out of 100. Pizza Hut and Papa John’s are two of the few chains that scored the average. Burger King and Taco Bell were below the average (76 and 72 scores respectively). And McDonald’s comes in last with 71.

Also noticeable from the chart: a number of fast-food chains scored below average. Many more this year than last actually.

But when you talk about fast food in America, it’s McDonald’s that’s synonymous. That’s where larger trends become key factors.

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Where’s the Beef? Whole Foods Has 4,000 Pounds of Meat Recalled for Mad Cow

mad-cow

Moo, damnit!

America is going healthy, which is why stores like Whole Foods Market are so popular these days. I shop there for most of my produce and dead animals (shout out to PETA), but some unfortunate news may cause loyal shoppers like me to reconsider those options for a while.

According to the Los Angeles Times, by way of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there has been a massive two-ton beef recall over fears of possible contamination with substances that could lead to bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

That’s “Mad Cow,” which equals two more words: Crisis communicationsRead more

KFC Asked 3-Year-Old Girl to Leave Because Her Face ‘Scared Customers’

killed your dadI suppose after hearing this story, we will have an answer to the new marketing question #HowDoYouKFC? Answer: Sure as hell not like this.

This unfortunate story hails from Jackson, Miss. inside a KFC location. As the story goes, many people who work hourly shifts at fast-food joints are rumored to be unhappy fops and take it out on customers.

One such simpleton gnome blamed her miserable existence on a girl with a few cuts on her face. The KFC employee asked said girl to leave the store because “[her] scars made the customers nervous.”

Two things: The girl was three. The scars were caused by a pitbull attack. Your move, KFC.

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